Hiring engineers in the current landscape is challenging. Engineers are in high demand, which means they can pick and choose which jobs to apply for. For recruiters, this presents a unique challenge. How do you attract top engineering talent and encourage them to come work for you? Let’s take a closer look at the steps you can take to recruit great engineers.

Why are great engineers so hard to find?

When looking at the fastest growing jobs of 2019 across the world, the word "Engineer" appears almost more than any other. From Robotics Engineers, Full Stack Engineers and Data Engineers to Site Reliability Engineers, Software Engineers and Cloud Engineers, there will be no shortage in demand for these hot positions in the coming years.

In America alone, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) found in May 2020 that the unemployment rate for computing occupations was 2.5%. That’s 11.5% lower than the national average. This low unemployment rate shows just how in-demand engineering roles are today.

A global skills shortage means that there are lots of opportunities out there for engineers to develop their career. The fact that engineers can choose from a range of jobs makes them hard to find and even harder to recruit.

Add to that a lack of awareness about STEM careers in schools, which often means fewer people seeking out jobs or further education in the engineering sector, and you'll see why it's not easy to find the best engineers for your team.

How to recruit and hire engineers

Because great engineers are hard to find, recruiters need to have a plan and devote more time than usual to hiring these unicorns. To help you in your search, we’ve outlined these 7 essential steps:

Step 1: Become the company engineers want to work for

To attract engineers, you need to become the type of company they want to work for. Although money is important, it’s only a short-term motivator. Those who have their pick of the top jobs look at factors beyond salary.

For example, some engineers may be attracted to roles where they can have an impact and see the positive results of their work. Many also look for learning and development opportunities and the chance to upskill. 

As a company, you may want to consider investing in learning and development opportunities, or take on more ambitious projects that will appeal to top-tier engineers.

Step 2: Display your culture

According to Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success.

Most companies begin the hiring process with a job description. However, to hire great engineers, the process needs to begin with your brand. In order to make your company desirable to engineers, you need to showcase your culture on your website, social media and other external communications.

Consider what your company stands for. What is its founding story, values and ethics? What is it about the industry that your company wants to change or develop? For example, if your company advocates flexible working, make this stand out as a unique selling point in your marketing. 

By raising awareness of your company’s culture, engineers will engage with your messages, helping you attract the right type of candidates.

Step 3: A great job description

A great job description goes beyond simply describing tasks and duties. Given how challenging it can be to attract engineers, your job description should aim to strike a balance between information and persuasion.

The first step to writing an effective engineering job description is to explain how the role fits in with your overall company mission. Tying the role to a greater cause can appeal to engineers who aren’t drawn to salary alone.

After describing the typical tasks of the job, you should highlight the benefits of working for the company. Mention all the perks of the job, such as remote working opportunities, free gym membership, discounts etc. and explain how candidates will benefit from them.

You should also aim to remove any bias in the language used in descriptions. Tools like Textio’s Recruitment Marketing tool can help ensure the language you use is gender neutral, which can encourage more applicants to apply.

Step 4: Don’t rush the screening process

When it comes to screening engineers for interviews, it’s important not to rush in. Just because a candidate doesn’t tick all the boxes in the job description, it doesn’t mean they won’t be suitable.

Instead, hiring managers should aim to build a relationship with applicants first. Arrange a phone call for an informal chat and get to know more about their motivations for applying. Ask them what they hope to gain from working with the company. Even if you decide that a candidate isn’t suitable, you can still contact them in the future about other positions.

To further qualify the suitability of your candidate longlist, consider issuing a test that’s reflective of the work they’ll be doing in the role. The aim of a coding test, for example, is to assess an engineer’s ability to write clean, functional code that can be maintained easily. 

Coding test tools like Codility can help ensure engineers have the skills, qualifications and experience you’re looking for. 

Step 5: Ask the right questions

When interviewing engineers, it’s important to ask questions about the tasks they’ll be doing. You’ll want to ensure that candidates can demonstrate their prior experience, skills, and technical understanding.

Rather than asking generic questions about where they’d like to be in five years' time, ask questions about the specific programming languages they’ll be using. Provide them with hypothetical briefs and ask how they’d approach the project and what tools they’d use.

It’s also important to remember that cultural fit isn’t everything. In fact, it can be a hindrance to achieving diversity and inclusion. According to the Boston Consulting Group, companies with above-average diversity experience a 45% increase in innovation revenue. As such, restrictive culture fit agendas may not be the best approach for face-to-face interviews.

More important than cultural fit is an engineer’s ability to communicate well with other team members.

Step 6: Close fast

If you feel confident that you’ve found the right engineer for a role, it’s important to close quickly. Given the current engineering skills shortage, great engineers get snapped up quickly. If you’ve found someone who is a good fit, don’t hesitate to make contact and offer them the job.

When you follow up, be sure to personalise the message and reiterate how they will benefit for working with the company. Once they’ve accepted the job verbally, you can then send all the relevant documentation.

The key to closing a role quickly is to have an open, honest conversation about expectations. This should include salary, working hours, benefits and any other essential information both parties need to know. 

Step 7: Hired? Keep searching!

Even after you’ve made a hire, it’s important to keep searching. The more engineers you have in your talent pool, the quicker you’ll be able to hire again in the future. Keep your contact list engaged by keeping them up to date with what’s happening at the company. Share useful content with them and let them know about any new roles that become available.

You could also join dedicated recruitment platforms and showcase your company profile to potential candidates. Similarly, if you find any jobseekers who could be suitable for upcoming roles, reach out and make contact. Outbound prospecting can be a very effective means of finding good engineering applicants.

Longer term, you may want to consider starting an internship program. Interns gain valuable experience from working with a team of engineers. The company also gets the chance to evaluate the intern’s skills for future opportunities. 

Outsource your recruitment efforts

Another way to find engineers is to outsource your efforts. At Brunel, we provide staffing solutions to help solve your most frustrating capacity issues. From staffing entire departments to managing your entire hiring process, our services can be tailored to meet your needs. 

Find out more about outsourcing your staffing to an agency.

As part of our recruitment services, we can provide support for your IT department at peak times. Our global network in over 40 countries means we can find the right specialists worldwide and arrange the legal, administrative and technical processing. 

Want to learn more about what you can accomplish together? Reach out below. 

Learn more about our recruitment services

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